How your brain activity predicts decisions before they are consciously made.

Recently a study, published in Nature, has found that researchers could predict people’s decisions using brain scanners before the test subjects were even conscious of making them.

Nevertheless, the research findings raise reflective queries about the nature of person and autonomy. Your choices are prepared strongly by your brain activity. When your consciousness kicks in, most of the task has already been done.

According to the findings of the study, researchers can sometimes see your choices before you know them yourself.

Detailed research to explain the link

Participants in a study were asked to pick between two color patterns. During this, the scientists were running the test used imageries on an fMRI machine to forecast which they would select. The researchers ponder this indication that our choices are primed by an unconscious “stand-by” mode.

Researchers then asked a group of volunteers to visualize a pattern of either vertical or horizontal colored lines. When participants had decided which they would imagine, they pressed a button. Later, they pressed other buttons to show how strong the image was.

During all this process, researchers were able to verify the decision timing by means of the imaging to confirm that people were not delaying pressing the button. Nevertheless, often, the research team already knew the result.

Each line orientation simply matched definite patterns in the graphic cortex. Furthermore, these patterns often showed up earlier, by up to 11 seconds, demonstrating that the brains of participants were inclined to one orientation or the other before they deliberately knew what they’d do.

Some of the participants were asked to choose between these two images. While others were shown a vertical green/horizontal red pairing.

Researchers of the study have described it as showing we don’t have free will like the choices we think we are making are prearranged. According to one of the researchers, scientists who have conducted rather similar experiments, approve this idea, but he rejects it.

The precision of estimates prior to the decision was only a little over 50% in some trials which are enough to prove the effect was real. But even the most effective trials did not approach the 100% we would imagine if free will was absent.

The researchers have also predicted the participants’ rating of image strength, which varied over repeated trials. It was based on the timing of when relevant regions of the brain formed patterns.

Concluding remarks and future directions

Overall, the thought of the vertical and horizontal line of participants was almost exactly equally often. Though there was a slight bias in favor of the opposite orientation to the prior trial.

This study can be seen as the primary to capture the origins and possible contents of involuntary thoughts and how they develop into or favor successive voluntary images

These outcomes elaborate that the vividness of future visual thoughts is predicted by data stored in our primary visual cortex.

The research team hopes that this work will help describe the workings of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seeing that individuals who suffer from it “report a whole lack of control of both the content and strength of their intellectual imagery.”


Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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